Mariners president Kevin Mather was in studio for the Dave Mahler show today on Sportsradio KJR.
It was interesting. He talked about many things – last season’s finish, fans, transaction process, the situation with the Sonics and a SoDo arena and ownership structure. You should listen.
Here’s a few highlights …
On the news front, he talked about payroll and Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera.
As for payroll, Mather admitted Mariners were $16 million over the budgeted payroll at $107 million at the end of the season.
“Last year we spent $107 million on player payroll,” he said. “I blew by what was the approved budget was in November. The approved budget was $16 million less than it ended up. And I didn’t have one owner come up to me and say, ‘what are you going to be about this $16 million mess?’ I had a whole bunch of owners come up to me and say, ‘what are you going to do to win two more games so I don’t have to be watching TV in October and I can be attending game.'”
He wouldn’t give an exact number on the payroll for 2016.
“Our number is higher,” he said. “Jack has more flexibility. He has more money to spend. He understands that he has a budget to live in. He still has some payroll.
So the number?
“Well in excess of what we spent last year at $107 million,” he said.
In explaining the inner workings of how transactions work within the front off, specifically free agent signings get done, Mather elaborated on it a little. He used Nelson Cruz as an example. GM Jack Zduriencik gave him an idea of the offer, Mather informed ownership and a few days later Cruz accepted.
“At the price we paid, we’ll take that every time,” Mather said.
He also said the Mariners never gave an official offer to Cruz last season, despite reports.
“We never made an offer to Nelson Cruz,” he said. “We had conversations with his agent, but we never made an offer. And all of the sudden we hear there was an offer of a two-year deal.”
Mather said they discussed Cruz’s PED suspension and listened to explanations and were satisfied.
Mather was asked about Melky Cabrera and if they were close to signing him. He gave a vague answer.
“I’ll start by saying that’s a Jack question,” he said. “We had conversations with his agent. We had conversations with Melky. Part of our issues is, we’ve just come out of this long losing cycle where we got old and then we tried to stay competitive while rebuilding. We don’t want to do that again. We’ve got young players coming and a minor league system that we think is pretty good. And how many guys are you going to buy a position for four years or five years. Philosophically, we want to fill where the need is, but philosophically keep rolling through our young talent and making sure we keep acquiring young talent. That was part of the debate. But how long are we going to go and who is coming into our system and what other deals out there. We had conversations and we had interest in Melky Cabrera.”
Kind of interesting in some regards that there seems to be a limit of years and spending.
Here’s a few other comments ..
“Our fanbase has been so good to us. Our fans have been tremendous, loyal and patient to a fault. It’s time to we put a winning product on the field and we get that.”
“My job as the president of the club is to provide resources for winning. Whether it’s resources for Jack to sign a free agent player, whether it’s resources to build an academy in the Dominican so we can sign kids in the Dominican. They may be five or six years away, but five or six years from now they are going to young players in our system that we have. Those resources require coordination side – which we don’t want to talk about (joking)- and the baseball side – so we are all rowing in the same direction.”
“We need to put a winning product on the field. Everything else takes care of itself. That’s what made last year so fun.”
“Give me 90 wins and I will take my chances every year. We should be going to the playoffs on a regular basis. To go on a 10-year slide where we don’t even sniff the playoffs is unacceptable. But I tried to downplay the year because it been so long. – I said lets play competitive games in September. Because I didn’t want people to overreact to 85 wins or 83 wins. That’s great progress.”
“We aren’t going to sell our souls for this year. We want 95-97 wins for the next four or five years.”
That last line is relatively interesting and gives some idea about people screaming for one year for Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes.